A new report by Material Innovations has found that next-gen material investments surged to $980 million last year, up from $425.5 million in 2020.
The State of the Industry report also found that the total number of companies in the industry has increased significantly in the past eight years, now standing at 95. Of these, 67 are working on leather alternatives, 12 on silk, seven on wool, six on down, and one on exotic skins. The variety of inputs used is also on the rise, with more companies developing mycelium and microbe-derived alternatives rather than plant-based.
According to the report, $2.3 billion has been invested in the industry since 2015, with the market projected to be worth $2.2 billion by 2026. However, this figure is still only 3% of the addressable market.
“A very different future for materials”
One of the most notable next-gen material investments last year was BMW’s investment in Natural Fiber Welding.
“When one of the world’s largest producers of motor vehicles invests money in a company that makes 100% natural, plant-based materials to replace the use of animal leather, it sends a very strong signal — particularly to industry and investors — that we’re in for a very different future for materials,” said Allen Zelden, president of sustainable materials platform FUTUREVVORLD.
He added, “As the fashion, footwear, and automotive industries work towards improving the sustainability of their processes to meet their economic and environmental goals, investing in Earth-friendlier materials and leather alternatives will clearly play a very key role in realising a low-carbon industrial future.
“As the category continues to scale, we at FUTUREVVORLD will be there celebrating the work of those entrepreneurs and scientists trailblazing the next generation of materials by lending creativity to the conversations around environmental responsibility in fashion, footwear, and design.”